This Is Pleasure

Written by Erin Klassen, Illustration by Erin McPhee

Truth and fiction are not opposites: our most beautiful and significant stories become a way of processing and dissecting the middle ground between the two. We try to give names to our identities, our roles, our beliefs and values, and this naming helps us to sense out of how these identities, roles, and values brush up against the encounters and experiences which shape us throughout our lives. A lie is told intentionally out of shame, or guilt, or fear, but often a lie is also a story we hold onto while we make our way to the truth. We evolve, and so do the stories we tell — about ourselves, and for ourselves. Sharing these stories out loud can be a powerful part of a lifelong journey to self-understanding. 

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My first memorable orgasm happened in a pool. I was ten years old. I say “memorable” because there’s no value in counting the small surges of accidental pleasure a young person experiences in a bathtub, or on a swing set, or riding a bike. I say “happened” because I was merely an instrument of its mission, not a strategist or architect of its design.
— Erin Klassen

Erin klassen

Erin is the founder of With/out Pretend, but she’s also an editor, collaborator, community-builder, and fiction writer. Her work has appeared in a number of print and online publications, including Studio Magazine, CBC, Ephemera Magazine, and You Care Too Much. She enjoys Nina Simone, Italian food, and talking about the future. Recently she learned that she has a name twin in Toronto who gets their hair cut at the same salon.


erin mcphee

Erin is a freelance art director, designer and illustrator based in Toronto. She is the Creative Director of The Vault, and has previously worked as the Art Director of Quill & Quire Magazine, and as a contributing designer for The Medical Post, Today’s Parent, and other publications. In addition to her commercial work, she is an amateur ceramic and textile artist, and zine-maker. Her most recent zine Sex Dream (2018) is a playful reflection on queer relationships and sex.